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Thermal thresholds as predictors of seed dormancy release and germination timing: altitude-related risks from climate warming for the wild grapevine Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris

Orrù, Martino, Mattana, Efisio, Pritchard, Hugh W., Bacchetta, Gianluigi
Annals of botany 2012 v.110 no.8 pp. 1651-1660
Vitis vinifera, climatic factors, cold, global warming, prediction, pretreatment, risk, seed dormancy, seed germination, seeds, temperature
Background and Aims The importance of thermal thresholds for predicting seed dormancy release and germination timing under the present climate conditions and simulated climate change scenarios was investigated. In particular, Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris was investigated in four Sardinian populations over the full altitudinal range of the species (from approx. 100 to 800 m a.s.l). Methods Dried and fresh seeds from each population were incubated in the light at a range of temperatures (10–25 and 25/10 °C), without any pre-treatment and after a warm (3 months at 25 °C) or a cold (3 months at 5 °C) stratification. A thermal time approach was then applied to the germination results for dried seeds and the seed responses were modelled according to the present climate conditions and two simulated scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): B1 (+1·8 °C) and A2 (+3·4 °C). Key Results Cold stratification released physiological dormancy, while very few seeds germinated without treatments or after warm stratification. Fresh, cold-stratified seeds germinated significantly better (>80 %) at temperatures ≥20 °C than at lower temperatures. A base temperature for germination (T b) of 9·0–11·3 °C and a thermal time requirement for 50 % of germination (θ ₅₀) ranging from 33·6 °Cd to 68·6 °Cd were identified for non-dormant cold-stratified seeds, depending on the populations. This complex combination of thermal requirements for dormancy release and germination allowed prediction of field emergence from March to May under the present climatic conditions for the investigated populations. Conclusions The thermal thresholds for seed germination identified in this study (T b and θ ₅₀) explained the differences in seed germination detected among populations. Under the two simulated IPCC scenarios, an altitude-related risk from climate warming is identified, with lowland populations being more threatened due to a compromised seed dormancy release and a narrowed seed germination window.